Democrats are running strong in their efforts to unseat President Donald Trump come 2020, and they’ve already managed to nab control of the U.S. House — but the U.S. Senate still looms over their political hopes, threatening to keep them from unity across the government. That possibility might be soon out the window, though, considering Maine Republican Susan Collins has fewer people who approve of her performance in Congress than those who disapprove as she still waits to publicly announce whether she will even be running for re-election next year. She says she will finalize her decision come early fall of this year, but in the meantime, it’s clear that her seat could be in play for the Democrats considering only 45 percent of her constituents support her. Meanwhile, a full 48 percent actively disapprove. As recently as 2015, as much as 78 percent of her constituents approved of the job she was doing.
In the time since, the Maine Republican has attracted scrutiny from both sides of the aisle for votes she’s cast under the Trump administration. She helped credibly accused sexual predator and Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh get on the U.S. Supreme Court, but on the other side, she also voted against Republican efforts Trump partly led to do away with the Affordable Care Act. Collins blames forces other than her own behavior for her sharp decline in support, sharing recently:
‘The divisiveness of our country and the unceasing attacks by dark money groups in Maine have clearly had an impact. But I believe that once Mainers really focus on the race and we remind them of my being the No. 1 most bipartisan member of the Senate, and all the accomplishments that I can point to that have directly benefited the state, I’ll be fine.’
Why does she think that Republicans who’ve come out as Donald Trump supporters care if she has a track record of bipartisanship? Not that long ago, Trump himself said that he wouldn’t be working with Democrats on any more bipartisan policy pushes at all until they stopped their Russia investigations, a move they’ve shown no indication of undertaking. That’s the current GOP party line — not bipartisanship.
Potential Democratic challengers to Collins include Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, former gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet, lawyer Bre Kidman, and retired Air Force general Jonathan Treacy, all of whom have already announced Democratic primary bids. Gideon raised more than $1 million in the week following the announcement of her candidacy. Collins, meanwhile, “reported raising $2 million in the second quarter and had $5.4 million on hand in her FEC filing,” according to Business Insider.
Across the country, FiveThirtyEight notes, Democrats have raised significantly more amounts of money than Republicans for competitive Senate races to the point of a full “$34.1 million in total contributions in the first six months of 2019” versus Republicans’ $29.3 million, even though the GOP has twice as many incumbents on their side as Democrats do, but even still they can’t keep up.
These races are all proceeding under the shadow of the 2020 presidential race. Leading candidates have all polled well against Trump at this point, registering in some cases double digits more support than him. Likely general election challengers include former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and Kamala Harris (Calif.).
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